Do Cellphones and Social Media Make Family Relationships Stronger?
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Analyzing a New-Age Trend
Such a widespread proliferation of the World Wide Web, that intimately links nearly every pair of eyes to the beckoning screen (of whichever device that happens to take ones fancy at a particular time), has had a severe and debilitating impact on the home lives of many people. Instead of bringing people closer (and making the world one global village; as per the original orientation of its developers), the Internet has actually managed to wedge more divides between people. And it isn’t only strangers who have borne the brunt of this new-age trend –entire families (within their domestic dwellings) have succumbed to the separating pressures imposed by several social media tools.
On the Impact on Teens
In this respect, teens and growing adolescents seem to have been influenced the most.
Since they are already at a time in their lives when continual experimentation, bouts of rebellion, insubordination, as well as a desire to stake an ‘original path’ – along with the biological risks of ‘raging hormones’ looming ominously in the background – are standard, existential concerns, the Internet succeeds in adding more ‘spice to the pie’, as it were. The sight of frenzied adolescents texting away furiously in their cell phone devices (and interacting with a similarly predisposed peer of theirs) while sitting at the dinner table is a common sight to behold in these times; a spectacle which has entrenched itself as one of the undeniable archetypes of the age.
Before the advent of the Internet in the latter half of the 20th century, such visual (and often emotionally harrowing) instances of a stressed home life were usually hard to come by – since many growing children only had their parents, siblings, friends, teachers, and their immediate sociocultural locales to provide frameworks (reference points) for the appropriate type of behavior that they needed to emulate.
Creating Distances – the Internet as a Modern-Day Parenting Figure
The virtual network of the Internet has largely done away with such traditionally-inspiring benchmarks-of-conduct (as it were), and has instead imposed its own sociological takes – loaded with the interests of the corporate machinery of practically every profit-oriented industry –on the types of thoughts & actions that a new globalized citizenry should adopt (in order to fit in with its zealous one-world scenario). What we are seeing with the Internet, at present, is the ambitious entrenchment of a new epistemological conscience – one that is carrying out semantic shifts (innovations in the meanings of existing concepts/ideas) with an unapologetic rigor.
Addressing the Needs of the Family Unit
Family relationships intrinsically require the attributes of warmth, affection, understanding, compromise and responsiveness – meted out mutually by all the individuals who constitute a particular household –to be sustained effectively, and for the long-term. Parents (being the primary guardians and sustainers of these human settings) are necessitated, by the rights of the progeny that they beget, to sow the seeds of these qualities in their burgeoning homes – and from there on to teach & inspire their children to follow in their footsteps through actions.
Modern-day social media utilities like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram (among others), as unintended corollaries of their usage, manage to fashion another guardian ‘figure’ in the lives of children – one who often stands in direct opposition to the values that their parents happen to espouse. If any disagreements (of a day-to-day nature) chance to arise within the lives of growing children, they might choose to resort to the many ‘wily’ delights offered by the Internet and their Facebook pages; instead of dealing with their anxious and normally well-intentionedguardians.
The Internet, Cellphones & Social Media are Keeping People Apart
When many such scenarios take place within a particular home environment, the result accrued is one of a growing semblance of estrangement; where social media users are seen to disassociate themselves from their direct relations and acquaintances to a significantly heightened degree than their ‘non-connected’ contemporaries. The rising incidence rates in teen suicides and self-mutilation (not all of which abound due to the presence of some baseline psychological disorder) have been attributed, by many of the leading experts in the fields of child psychology and social health, to the widespread use of the Internet and social media by impressionable young kids.
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